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Definition: thin client


A client machine that relies on the server to perform the data processing. Either a dedicated thin client terminal or a regular PC with thin client software is used to send keyboard and mouse input to the server and receive screen output in return. The thin client does not process any data; it processes only the user interface (UI). The benefits are improved maintenance and security due to central administration of the hardware and software in the datacenter.

The architecture harks back to the early days of centralized mainframes and minicomputers. In the 1970s and 1980s, a user's machine was a terminal that processed only input and output. All data processing was performed in a centralized server.




Shared Services
Using shared terminal services software, all users have their own desktop but share the same OS and apps in the server. Users are limited to running prescribed applications and simple tasks such as creating folders and shortcuts. See Terminal Services, Remote Desktop Services and Citrix XenApp.






Desktop Virtualization
Each user's desktop (OS and apps) resides in a separate partition called a "virtual machine" (VM). Users are presented with their own PC, except that it physically resides in a server in the datacenter. For more on the VM architecture, see virtual machine. See Remote Desktop Services, Citrix XenDesktop, VMware and desktop virtualization.






A True Thin Client
Without a doubt, this is the only bona fide thin client on the market!